Versatile stage actor who was best known to TV audiences as The Bill’s hard-talking DS Ted Roach
Best known as the hard-talking, harder-hitting DS Ted Roach in ITV’s long-running police serial The Bill, Tony Scannell’s theatre work spanned the gamut from pantomime to the National Theatre and also saw him in the West End.
Born in Kinsale, County Cork and raised by his grandparents when his professional footballer father moved to England, Scannell began acting during a five-year spell in the RAF. Out of uniform, his first theatre job was as an assistant stage manager at the Cambridge Arts Theatre in 1968.
After training at the East 15 Acting School, he made his stage debut as Elyot in Noël Coward’s Private Lives at Frinton in 1974.
Soon after, he became a fixture of Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop company at Theatre Royal Stratford East, where he was seen in Ken Hill’s Dracula (1974) and Bloody Mary (1975).
Other early stage appearances included Pam Gems’ Guinevere (Soho Poly, 1976), Doug Lucie’s The New Garbo for Hull Truck and Stewart Parker’s Catchpenny Twist (King’s Head, 1980).
First seen in the second episode of The Bill in 1984, Scannell remained with the show until 1993, briefly returning in 2000. Later television included a recurring role in Family Affairs and guest roles in dramas and comedies, although he scored success as Tony Booth to Sue Johnston’s Pat Phoenix in the dramatized biography The Things You Do for Love: Against the Odds in 1998.
Scannell’s few film credits included scenes alongside Max von Sydow in Flash Gordon (1980) and a lead role (as a characteristically gruff detective) in the 2014 horror-thriller The Haunting of Harry Payne.
He appeared annually as a pantomime villain, but he also toured in Donald Churchill’s Mixed Feelings (2002) and Brian Clemens’ The Edge of Darkness (2004), and was seen in Peter Colley’s I’ll Be Back Before Midnight! at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park in 2005.
He made his sole West End appearance in Frederick Knott’s Wait Until Dark at the Garrick Theatre in 2003.
With his second wife, the actor Agnes Lillis, who survives him, he formed the Lowestoft-based Eastbound theatre company, touring the local area and leading adult acting classes.
Thomas Anthony Scannell was born on August 14, 1945 and died on May 26, aged 74.